Democracy and rights
Freedom House describes São Tomé and Príncipe, which is abbreviated as STP by Abbreviationfinder, as a free country whose rulers show respect for citizens’ political and social rights. The judiciary is grappling with corruption and lack of competence among the officials.
Multiparty systems prevail and voters have several political parties to choose from. The elections are usually referred to as free and fair. However, a democratic challenge is that the parties are strongly linked to individuals and families belonging to the country’s political elite. Power struggles between them are common.
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Women are under-represented in the country’s legislative assembly. During the 2010 century, the proportion of women in Parliament remained steady at 18 percent. It is nevertheless an improvement over the decade before when the proportion of women in the legislative assembly was between 2 and 9 percent.
Receiving and giving bribes is punishable, but police and other officials involved in corruption are rarely convicted of bribery. However, according to Transparency International’s corruption statistics, São Tomé and Príncipe have gradually become less corrupt in recent years and in relation to most neighboring countries, the country is good. In 2018 and 2019, São Tomé and Príncipe were ranked 64th out of 180 in the organization’s index of corruption in the world (see the full list here).
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of the press and opinion guaranteed by the Constitution is also respected by the country’s rulers in reality. The social debate is open and regime criticism is tolerated. São Tomé and Príncipe are not included in Reporters but the boundaries index of freedom of the press in the world.
Judicial system and legal security
The legal system is built according to Portuguese designs. The highest legal body is the Supreme Court, whose members are appointed by the National Assembly. There is also a constitutional court to ensure that the country’s laws are in accordance with the constitution. The death penalty has been abolished.
One problem is that many officials in the justice system have inadequate training. In addition, most are low-paid, making them susceptible to corruption. The police force has also become known for taking bribes.
The lack of educated judges means that many prisoners sit in prison for long periods without trial, sometimes more than a year. The conditions in the country’s only prison are harsh with congestion, poor food, poor medical care and poor ventilation in the high heat.